Duplex

the muffled songs
made me wonder
who played violin
on the other side

who cradled the bowstring
whose long haunting moans
whispered my name
in its dried throat
beyond the wooden wall
who itself whispered
its own ghosts
its dead fingerprints

are clamoring
to live again

 

(originally published in The Bond Street Review, Summer 2017)

Aria

she is a delicate
vocal who sings
on an axis

in an orchestra
we never talk about
and rarely attend

it is not enough
to hear her tones
encircle us

we will watch
her cords wear
as she forgets

how to sing
with fire
her notes softening

until she becomes
a silent
aria

 

(originally published in #thesideshow, Spring 2017)

The Funeral

                                           After Band of Horses

After my sister’s morning call broke
our father’s death, the first thing

I did was listen to Everything All the Time,
sobbing into unrequited guitar

and an ethereal voice soaring
into some great beyond. Seven years later,

I drink Bordeaux with my roommate
in the kitchen, cyclical tones

filling the room. The guitar is a coffin
for us both, lowering Dad’s corpse

into dirt. Her grandpa died
when this song released.

We rake our past leaves under burnt-out bulbs.
We agree: The Funeral was written for both of us

to pass the billion-each-insignificant day.
Dead leaves own the lawn each season

of our funerals. The same deaths
in autumn chill still dropping the needle

into memory’s vinyl– to come up only
to pull us under, show us wrong.

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Spring 2017)

Band Room

there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not

such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs

but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas

muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night

we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows

the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers

down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes

every piece celestas
on wet reed floor

the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something

 

(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)

Infinite Strings

It was Maxwell
who asked
if algebra
can be extended.
My theory is
it is possible
if we are infinite
strings of numbers,
if an unknown
number
of remaining days
is what
makes us immortal.
With him
gone,
I recite
as many
digits
of pi
as I can
just to feel
my tongue
flicker again–
does the universe
confuse numbers
with the heart’s
density, or
sparsity?
The night sky’s
violins
sing arias
for minor
constellations
that connect
to never-
ending strings
of
days–

 

(originally published in Columbia College Literary Review, Spring 2017)

Cooking Potatoes

The longer potatoes taste air, the more
they rust over time. We strummed
guitars with calloused fingertips
(melodious incision). The pot

overfills from the weight of boiling.
We whistled unfamiliar tunes through
afternoon orgasms. My teeth cannot chew
the raw. Steam will temper the room

enough to sustain our songs in my head.
I always liked to mix vegetables
into the mash, the music, but the days
are already too easy to cry. The onion

remains sheathed in its flaky armor.
Bunches of corn are never shucked.
Even the cheddar stays in plastic past
when these potatoes soften enough

to feed. The chords are always
harsh. We could never eat our fill.

 

(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 2016)

Night Train in Wait

We stare at stars until we feel
the cavalcade of stones shift beneath our shoes.
There is an entropy to the universe.
What melody does the rail hold in her ivories?

Do we listen for an engine to ignite
while we tangle in the grass, in the cold,
in the tremble of tracks? Where else to go?
We tremble, too, waiting

for a song from the vulnerable rail
and her sharp of distance.
If the train will not move I still want
to create landscapes with you

and callous ourselves hurtling
past engine content in her still
into worlds where I become wind,
and you, fire–

with a palm on your cheek,
we’re the mountains,
playas, beaches, moors.
All a blur. A quiver.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)